The force has significantly dimmed today, now that Bob Anderson, the sword master who famously swung Darth Vader's lightsaber in Star Wars, has passed away.  According to the British Academy of Fencing, he "passed away peacefully" in an English hospital. He was 89.

The Olympic fencer leaves behind a legacy that would make many a fan boy proud, including doubling for Darth Vader (David Prowse) in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as being sword master for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Not wanting to detract from Prowse's star power, director George Lucas initially had qualms about revealing that Anderson was the one behind the black helmet. But in 1983, Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the original film, publicly recognized the fencer's contributions.

"Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader’s fighting. It was always supposed to be a secret," Hamill said. "But I finally told George I didn't think it was fair any more. Bob worked so bloody hard that he deserves some recognition. It’s ridiculous to preserve the myth that it’s all done by one man."

Anderson went on to become one of the most coveted sword masters in the business, starring in The Princess Bride, Die Another Day and The Hobbit, among many others. But this was the duel we'll remember most of all.

[via Geek.com]